6 Simple Strategies To Heal Your Gut Naturally
Your gut is a complex ecosystem. It's responsible for digestion, but it also impacts your skin, immunity, and even mood. If you've read our Gut Health 101 blog, you already know how important your gut is to the remainder of your body. And, as research continues to evolve on the gut-brain connection, it has become more apparent that maintaining a healthy gut is key to optimal health – both physical and mental.
When this delicate ecosystem is disrupted, you may start to experience signs of gut imbalance. These could manifest as a variety of symptoms, both physiological and psychological, including digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and stomach pain, as well as low energy levels, mood swings, anxiety, brain fog, sleep disturbances, skin rashes, and others.
Given that poor gut health can lead to long-term health complications, knowing some ways to heal your gut can be the answer to supporting your best long-term health.
How To Heal Your Gut: 6 Simple Strategies
1. Eliminate inflammatory foods
Inflammation is at the core of poor gut health. If unresolved, it can lead to a host of conditions, including inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Eliminating inflammatory foods is a great first step to start the healing process within the gut and to allow for the body's inflammation process to normalize.
Inflammatory foods are often made with artificial ingredients, refined sugars, oils, additives, and saturated fat while lacking nutritional value. Foods to avoid include:
- Alcohol: beer, liquor, and wine
- Highly processed, packaged foods: potato chips, candy, or any ‘junk' food
- Processed meats: cold cuts, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon
- Refined carbohydrates: bread, crackers, and pastries made from white flour
- Foods high in saturated fat: ‘fast food' and fried foods
- Sugar-sweetened beverages: soda, sweet tea, and sugary coffee drinks
- Baked goods and sweets: donuts, cookies, and cakes
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, and sucralose
2. Eat foods that help fight inflammation
While eliminating inflammatory foods is a great first step, it should then be accompanied by the addition of foods that contain compounds to help combat inflammation. Consuming a diet that's rich in foods that support a healthy inflammation response is an all-encompassing way to support your gut and your overall health.
Polyphenols are plant compounds known to help combat chronic inflammation and manage oxidative stress. Research indicates that foods high in polyphenols can support gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Inflammation-fighting, gut health foods to incorporate into your diet include:
- Fruits such as berries, citrus fruits, cherries, and pomegranate
- Vegetables especially leafy greens, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes
- Healthy fats such as fish, seafood, avocado, nuts, and seeds
- Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, and ginger
- Foods high in polyphenols such as green tea, grapes, and cacao (dark chocolate)
3. Increase fiber intake by eating more plants
Your microbiome – the collection of microorganisms that reside within your gut – thrives on high-fiber foods. When fiber reaches your colon, it serves as food for your good bacteria through a fermentation process.
The end products of this bacterial fermentation are called short-chain fatty acids. These metabolites serve as the main source of energy for your colon and can help gut health through inflammation support and inhibiting the growth of potentially harmful pathogens.
Fiber is only found in plants, so increasing your intake of plant-based foods is the best way to get more fiber into your diet. Foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, are excellent sources of fiber.
One easy way to increase fiber intake is to swap refined grains (bread, pasta, etc.) with whole grains (brown rice, steel-cut oats, etc), snack on fruits and nuts, and fill half of your dinner plate with vegetables.
4. Drink more water
Water is fiber's best friend. That's because both soluble and insoluble fibers require water to aid with proper digestion and stool formation which is necessary to avoid constipation. So when you increase your fiber intake, you also want to increase water consumption
Water promotes peristalsis, the movement of food through the gut, and helps to eliminate toxins and waste from the body. Research indicates that drinking water may be linked to healthy microbial diversity and decreased pathogenic bacteria.
Experts suggest consuming a minimum of 64 fluid ounces (eight cups) of water per day.
5. Exercise regularly and manage stress
Regular exercise supports the gut by promoting gut flora diversity, stimulating digestion, and reducing constipation. Physical activity can also improve stress levels and promote healthy cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
Stress raises levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that can negatively affect the gut by triggering an inflammatory response and suppressing the digestive system.
Stress can also increase gut barrier permeability and contribute to "leaky gut" in which bacteria can seep into your bloodstream and create an inflammatory response..
Like exercise, mindful breathing techniques, such as those practiced in yoga and meditation, are also highly effective for managing stress as they lower the heart rate and bring the body into a state of relaxation.
6. Consume prebiotics and probiotics daily
Improving gut health means supporting the friendly, health-promoting microorganisms that live in it. Probiotics are living bacteria that help populate your gut microbiota and promote diversity. Prebiotics act as food for the probiotics, helping this beneficial bacteria thrive.
Foods such as oats, apples, and garlic are good sources of prebiotic fiber, while fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt are good sources of probiotics.
While getting prebiotics and probiotics from your diet is helpful, taking a daily Pre + Probiotic supplement can be a more efficient and effective way to add meaningful levels for gut healing. Unfortunately, many pre/probiotic supplements don't deliver what you really need. To be effective, a supplement must provide the right types of bacterial species and in sufficient amounts, while also making sure the bacteria can survive and make their way into the colon.
With 50 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of diverse and science-backed probiotic strains, Blueshift Pre + Probiotic Ultra blend is one of the easiest, effective ways to support your gut health.
The delicious, drinkable blend features clinically-proven PreForPro® to fight bad bacteria and nourish the good, plus prebiotics from organic fruits to support beneficial bacteria and the production of short-chain fatty acids.
Not to mention, Pre + Probiotic Ultra helps you stay hydrated, which also helps keep your digestion moving and your gut healthy.
Keeping it simple
Suboptimal gut health affects almost every aspect of our health and wellbeing — from digestion, to immunity, to skin, and even mood. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to naturally support and help heal your gut: eat better, exercise, drink water, and, when necessary, lean on the power of the right Gut Health supplement.
Sound like a self-care list? That's because it is. Gut health is highly affected by your lifestyle, so incorporating healthy habits that you can sustain for years to come will have benefits that go beyond your gut to support your entire body, mind, and overall well being.